Story by Jon Stack

I won’t lie, I love my fishing. Whereas many of you will spend hard earned wages on a sunny holiday drinking pina coladas on white beaches, I save my holiday for the winter so I can sit on the muddy banks of the Bristol Avon in torrential rain trying to catch barbel and pike. So you can imagine how excited I was to learn that as part of Jamie’s Italian staff training we would meet the Channel Fisheries team (that supplies fish to the Jamie’s Italian restaurants) and do a spot of fishing.

The first part of our visit was a real eye opener as we made our way down to Brixham’s new fish market. You expect these places to be dark and full of stereotypical fishermen in yellow waterproofs and smoking pipes. What we actually got was a very modern fully chilled warehouse; spotlessly clean with a huge array of fish sorted in terms of size and species. Thousands of fish were sold in the hour we were there, a number of which were sold to Channel Fisheries, thanks to their chief bidder Nathan who later told us it would be in our Jamie’s Italian restaurants later that same day. If we went and caught it ourselves it couldn’t be much fresher than that!

Next up we got the chance to test our sea legs and angling prowess as we set out to sea in a day boat similar to those used on a daily basis to catch the fish we see in our restaurants. Sadly I’m not going to go into too much detail about this part as I was horrendously sea sick and had to return to shore a few hours later. Brixham must have known we were coming as it was rough, really rough! Twenty Jamie’s Italian employees made the trip down and we caught a grand total of twenty three fish. Probably best we stick to what we know. Congratulations to those who managed to brave the full five hours, I can tell you our grill chef Ollie still thinks he’s on a boat.

That evening we were treated to a seafood banquet, no frills, just fantastic fresh fish featuring crab, lobster, sardines and scallops. It really was amazing, the produce stood up and spoke for itself! Also present were some of the locals and it was fun to chat with them and great to see how their passion for fresh, in season, sustainable fish is shared by everyone working at Jamie’s Italian.

For the final part of our visit we trekked out into the wilderness to meet the four man team at the crab processing plant. For such a small place the amount of crab and lobster present was huge, and it was only a matter of time before we plucked up the courage to hold the live crustaceans to the camera. Well, we kind of had to – we’d caught sod all fish!

One of the best things for me about working at Jamie’s Italian is the fish we offer and after going down to Brixham and seeing the hard work and thought that goes into our produce it makes the whole experience even more special. It’s only fair that everyone should be given the opportunity to taste the forgotten fish of our seas and I think with the help and guidance of Channel Fisheries we do a great job with our menu and daily specials.

About the author:
Jon Stack is the Bar Manager at Jamie’s Italian in Bath

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